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What’s Old Is New Again

Posted on Aug 29, 2019 in New Construction , Architecture , Huff brothers , September–October 2019

Wilder by the Sea is undergoing a renovation, due to be completed next spring. Photo courtesy the Seaside Portal

Second wave of new construction redefines Seaside by Pratt Farmer

The Huff brothers, Brandon and Chandler, are well-known homebuilders in the area. In fact, in their company’s 27-year history, they have built more than 3,000 homes between Destin and Rosemary Beach. The brothers grew up working for their father who owned a well-known heating and air conditioning company. Eventually, while in college they convinced their dad to back them in the construction of their first spec house. They sold the house, finished college and went their separate ways.

“Chandler graduated from college and came back to work with dad and I moved to Birmingham to work for a large general contracting firm. But we both had homebuilding in our blood,” says Brandon, the older of the two. In 1992 the brothers had a plan and with the help of their dad, they set up shop and began to build homes. Always enamored with Seaside and its unique brand, they eventually bought a small home on east Ruskin Street, tore it down and built a more modern version of what everyone calls a Florida cottage. “As our families grew, the house on Ruskin just wasn’t big enough. We are a close family and when everyone would come to Seaside, even for a weekend, the quarters were cramped,” says Brandon.

So, four years ago, the Huff brothers purchased “Wilder by the Sea,” a two-story home on the water. “We love the water, and this lot has amazing views of the Gulf. And, if you have ever watched the sun slowly sink below the horizon across the Gulf, buying a house beachside was a must,” says Chandler. Because the existing house was over 25 years old, the brothers decided that tearing down the existing structure would actually be more economical than trying to update and upgrade the house to meet their family’s needs along with the current building code.

They engaged architects Scott Merrill and David Colgan to work with them to design a home that would not only meet the rigid architectural standards of Seaside, but would also serve to advance design elements beyond even today’s expectations. “Many homes in Seaside are iconic structures and the architectural details are varied. That’s part of the charm of the community. But it can also be a curse because there are so many details that have evolved over the past thirty years,” says Brandon. “We wanted to celebrate the design intent of the original architects and planners while still creating a modern home built in the context of a new environment.”

Architects Scott Merrill and David Colgan plan on creating a modern home while honoring the intent of the original architects and planners. Rendering by Merrill, Pastor and Colgan Architects

It’s no wonder that the most important part of the home is its southern side. Designed with a huge back porch that overlooks the emerald waters of the Gulf, family and guests will be able to enjoy the shade, look for dolphins in the distance and get a bit of respite from those hot summer days. The home will boast five bedrooms, five baths and two half-baths. “With our combined family, we can have as many as 11 people in the house at any one time. That means a lot of beds, a big kitchen and several outside spaces for people to gather,” says Brandon. In fact, there are three distinct outside living spaces that everyone is certain to enjoy.

Designed with a nod to the shingle siding homes commonly found along the New England Coast, the grey exterior of the home will beckon visitors to come in, relax and enjoy the day, complete with a colorful ever-changing sunset, day after day.

The pilings are set and construction will soon began on the next era of new Seaside homes. The brothers anticipate completion next spring. So, if you are back in Seaside after April 2020, take a walk down 30A and look for the newest home on the road. That will be the Huff family enjoying another day at the beach.